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Mohave County Health Director: No virus ‘hot spots’ in Mohave County

Mohave County District 2 Supervisor Hildy Angius learned that data on the number of patients who have recovered from the coronavirus in Mohave County might be available in about a week. (Miner file photo)

Mohave County District 2 Supervisor Hildy Angius learned that data on the number of patients who have recovered from the coronavirus in Mohave County might be available in about a week. (Miner file photo)

KINGMAN – Mohave County Board of Supervisors held a special meeting Wednesday, April 15 to receive a report on the state of the pandemic from Mohave County Department of Public Health Director Denise Burley.

Burley reviewed the notification process, explaining how the county reports on positive COVID-19 cases and why there are delays, especially if the result came from an outside health provider, Burley said, meaning the test did not originate via her department.

The main issue seems to be patient confidentiality that makes the process lengthy and the community anxious. That also explains why the location of coronavirus patients is still not getting more specific.

“If we said there is a positive case in Dolan Springs, it would be too easy to identify that person,” Burley said. “It would be irresponsible and could cause harm.”

District 1 Supervisor Gary Watson asked about community host spots. “The Kingman area has by far the most cases,” he said, and asked if Burley can be more specific in terms of dangerous locations.

Public Health cannot identify hot spots at this time, Burley said, because they are dealing with community spread of the virus, which means many patients doesn’t know where they were infected. Also, she added, the population is not being tested enough to determine hot spots.

“We are still not doing mass testing, nor even testing everyone with the symptoms,” she said, so talking about hot spots is impossible.

“That would give people a false sense of security,” Burley said. “They would say: ‘Oh, that’s the place I need to avoid.’”

Burley agreed when Chairwoman Jean Bishop observed that some remote communities might have a false sense that they are not in danger like residents of Kingman or Lake Havasu City, just because tests are not being conducted there.

District 2 Supervisor Hildy Angius asked about data on patients who have recovered from COVID-19 in the county.

“The state is looking how to collect that info,” Burley replied.

That information may be available in about a week, Burley said, noting some states are already releasing such information. Part of the issue is the precise definition of “recovery.”

“That’s the piece Arizona Department of Health Services would like to define first,” she added, “to make sure we are all on the same page in terms of how we interpret it.”

Burley spoke about local hospitals still having a lot of capacity and being prepared for the surge which is expected in late April. She said her department is looking to purchase more personal protective equipment to address the local shortage.

She also proposed reducing the number of meetings the department holds each week with county and city leaders, local hospital officials and first responders.

“We try to reduce those to two,” she said. “Monday and Wednesday or Monday and Thursday, possibly.”

District 3 Supervisor Buster Johnson asked about the assistance patients identified as COVID-19 positive receive.

Burley explained there is a group of people and agencies that offer assistance in Kingman, helping with such things as running errands and grocery shopping. All patients sent home receive a quarantine package that includes a thermometer and hand sanitizer.

Johnson also asked if it is possible to get sick twice. Burley responded that yes, in theory, there is such a possibility, since the virus over time mutates into various strains.

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